Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I probably say this every year, but... Can you believe it's Christmas *already*!

I've been baking away like a crazy woman the past 2 days for family gatherings that will starts today at my sister's house and end tomorrow at my brother-in-law's house. Before I start enjoying my family, I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family the happiest of holidays!

Wishing you a festive holiday season!

Monday, November 26, 2012

{Cyber Monday} And Thanksgiving

Can you believe that Thanksgiving has already came and went?! It's going by so fast! By the way... Happy Belated Thanksgiving! Hope everyone enjoyed their time with family and friends. Rich and I shared our time with both sides of the family tree. As you can image, there was a lot of driving and eating. I'm still feeling bloated and I think I'm still in a turkey haze. I need some major detox!

Speaking of food! As I mentioned a million times before, I love autumn and I'm always inspired by it's flavors. So, I would like to share our latest seasonal cookie... Brown Sugar Pepita Sablés with Spiced Ganache.

Also... It's Cyber Monday and we are celebrating! Save 10% on all orders today only! Use coupon code: CYBERMONDAY

Coupon code also be used on our Etsy shop.

Hurry... Sale ends tonight!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just Married!

{Lounge Area} Both pictures were taken by my mom :)

It’s official… My sister is now married!

And yes, we pulled it off! We accomplished our decorating mission! Believe it or not, I’m actually kind of shocked with what we achieved! If you recall (you can read the post here), I mentioned that we were trying to achieve a South Beach vibe with a tropical twist.

I have to admit though; it wasn’t smooth sailing when we arrived at the venue. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. From making thirteen cement bases, sewing 20-something throw pillows, hand-cutting PVC pipes and to making Polynesian ceremonial flower rafts at 1:00AM. But it all came together and it was a beautiful wedding…

{Lounge Area} Cocktail tables with Polynesian ceremonial flower rafts as a centerpiece.

To the newlyweds,

We are so glad that the two of you have taken this step of love together. May you both grow to understand, respect and love one another more with each waking day. We wish you a very happy marriage and we can't wait to celebrate your love for years to come!


Love always,
your big sister & brother-in-law

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Official... Autumn is Here!

After a summer of high humidity and extensive heat waves... Not to mention that it was in the high 80s this past week! Can you believe it? In September! So, it's been nice to finally have some relief this week.

With Autumn officially here! So is our Toasted Oatmeal Cranberry Shortbread and our Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle. By the way, we are working on some new seasonal flavors... So stay tuned

Monday, September 10, 2012

Where Did The Summer Go?!

It has been an extremely long week, month… Nope! Extremely long three months. Between work, family health crises, and my sister’s upcoming wedding; it’s been crazy to say the least. Don’t you wish you could either clone yourself or just completely punch out sometimes?! *sigh* I wish I could!

About 4 months ago, my sister decided to move up her wedding to September. So, you can only imagine the go, go attitude/schedule we’ve been in to get everything done. That includes… bridal shower, bachelorette and bachelor party (both my husband and I are in the wedding party), etc.

My sister and fiancé decided to rent out a beach house for their venue. Obviously the theme is beach! They want a laid-back feel to their wedding. This describes them and their ecstatic perfectly, but the laid-back vibe kept getting more and more elaborate every day.

About a month or two ago… My sister decided to pass the decorating baton to my mother. So naturally, I am automatically volunteered to help my mom. This wouldn't be a huge issue if I didn't also have to take care of the dessert table for my sister's bridal shower (by the way... found out last minute that I had to do that as well). 

Not to mention that we have to set-up tables, chairs and decorate around a HUGE pool that takes up most of the property. Our idea was to cover the pool and use the pool as a dance floor, but they don’t want to cover the pool. So, yeah… I couldn’t even begin to tell you the lack of sleep over this. Almost every idea we had was vetoed by the couple. It can be very frustrating at times, but we’ll pull it off. Hopefully!

My mom and I have been pulling out our hair to say the least. At times, it feels like we are grasping at straws to figure out a decor that will work with the theme. I think we've shopped at every store in our state and browsed every bridal website looking for wedding decorations. But I finally came up with an idea that has been accepted by the couple! We are going with a South Beach vibe (think Mondrian South Beach, but less lounge-y and not as upscale) with a tropical twist. I figured this idea would work perfectly with the pool.

On top of helping with my sister's wedding, we've been dealing with family health issues. In January, my uncle found out that he has pancreatic cancer. He is now home recovering from surgery. He is waiting to restart chemotherapy, but it seems like everything is okay on that end (pun intended).

I know this is a long post, but bare with me. I'm almost done... I'm so embarrassed that the last time I wrote a post was back in May. So much for my New Years' Resolution

So... Two weeks ago, my husband broke his fourth ("ring") toe! I'm just glad it was one clean break. No pins or surgery needed! But wait... it gets better!

My mom was feeling sick Monday and it got worse from there. She woke up on Wednesday with the right side of her face swollen and right eye swollen shut. She went to the hospital and has been there since. It turned out that she had an infection in her nasolacrimal canal and lacrimal sac. The hospital kept her for observation because they worry that if the infection spreads... there was a possibility for meningitis. It's now 5 days later... She's feeling better and itching to go home. My sister's wedding is 5 days away so, you can only imagine her anxiety. 

It has been one crazy summer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rhubarb Lime Pie with Coconut Crumble

Happy Belated Memorial Day Everyone!

Did everyone have a wonderful weekend? I did! Although summer doesn't officially start until a few weeks yet... it unofficially started this weekend.

There has been a lot of family health issues and drama around here lately. So, an enjoyable three-day weekend was sorely needed. Our weekend was devoted to family gatherings, good friends and several trips to home improvement stores.

Of course our grill died this weekend... And during the most important grilling season! We tried really hard to revive her, but no dice. After trying to replace the burners, pipes, tubes, etc... We had to come to terms that she was gone.

While the husband grunted and made low inarticulate sounds as he tried to fix the grill... I headed into the kitchen.

Being that it was so hot and humid over this weekend... All I could think about was coconut popsicles, but I didn't have everything I needed at hand to make them. After a few minutes of trying to figure out what to make... I found the perfect combination of flavors to celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

I decided on making pie... Yeah, I know! I went from craving a frozen treat to baking something comforting. After all, it's still Spring and I usually celebrate Spring with some kind of rhubarb baked confection.

I was actually quite pleased with the end result... The coconut crumble offsets the tartness of the rhubarb and lime nicely.

Rhubarb Lime Pie with Coconut Crumble
yields: 9 -inch pie

Pate Brisee*
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) All-Purpose Flour
1 cups (226 grams) Unsalted Butter, chilled and diced
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
2 tablespoons - 1/4 cup Chilled Water

I like to make my pie crust by hand using a pastry knife, but you can also use a food processor.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and process until the mixer resembles corn meal, about 8 - 10 seconds.

With the machine running, add the chilled water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until the dough holds together without being too wet. You might not have to use all of the chilled water. To test, squeeze a small amount together. It should hold kind of like clay or putty, it should not feel sticky or crumbly.

Divide the dough into two equal parts. Flatten each into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Roll the dough into 1/8 -inch thick to fit a 9 -inch pie plate. Fold any overhang under and crimp or seal using the tines of a fork. Allow the pie shell sit in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.

*This particular recipes yields (1) 9 -inch double crust or (2) single crust. You can freeze the other disk of pie crust for up to 3 months. 

2 1/2 lbs. (925 grams) Rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2 -inch thick
3/4 cup (150 grams) Granulated Sugar
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
Zest if 1 Lime
1 tablespoon fresh Lime Juice

Adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil to catch any juices that many bubble over while the pie bakes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, toss the rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, lime juice and zest. Pour the filling into crust-lined pie. Allow the pie to sit in the refrigerator while preparing the crumb topping.

Crumb Topping
6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, chilled and diced
3/4 cup (95 grams) All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (95 grams) Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1/4 cup (50 grams) Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Zest of 1 Lime

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse coconut until finely ground. Add flour, brown sugar, salt and lime zest, and pulse until combined. Add butter and process until the mixer resembles corn meal, about 8 - 10 seconds.

Sprinkle the crumb topping over the rhubarb filling into medium to large clumps. Bake for 20 minutes, then loosely tent the pie with foil (the coconut crumb topping browns quickly) and continue baking for 45 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow the pie to cool for at least 2 - 3 hours.

... and enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

{New Cookie Flavor} Lemon Lavender Oatmeal Shortbread

Even though we had a mild winter this year, I'm glad Spring has finally arrived. It has been a crazy winter for my family and myself, but I'll save that story for a rainy day. All I can say is that I'm ready to shed the gloom and start to bloom anew {Did see what I did there...? Spring... Bloom anew...}.

When I think of Spring... I think of citrus, rhubarb pie, flowers, riding motorcycles, asparagus, peas and my birthday {had to throw that in there}. With that in mind, I headed into our kitchen to recipe test and our latest cookie flavor was created; Lemon Lavender Oatmeal Shortbread.

Our Lemon Lavender Oatmeal Shortbread is a delightful twist on a classic. We lightly toast and freshly ground oats... the earthiness of the oats is further enriched with a floral bouquet of crushed lavender and sweetened with our house-made lemon sugar. You can purchase them here.

By the way... this is just one of a few new cookies coming to our Spring/Summer Seasonal Gift Box. Stay tuned for our latest cookies. Want a hint for our next flavor...?! It contains dried fruit of an herb. Have you guessed what it is?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

{Share Our Strength} NYC Food Blogger Bake Sale

“We are vegetarians… Not because we want to be, but because we have to be”
                                                                            - Marina (my grandmother)

This is a quote I will forever remember and repeat when times are hard. My grandmother was a witty lady and she always made me feel like everything was going to be okay.  

While writing this particular post, I didn’t think I would find myself evoking so many emotions.

I am the daughter of a single mother. So, at times, life was a bit strained. Sometimes we went without. My mother didn’t always have it easy, but she made it work for us. Every penny was pinched and budgeted… And nothing was ever wasted.

Sometimes we would have a soft boiled egg for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Left-overs were turned into soup that would be stretched until the next paycheck. That being said, I can’t say I ever recall going to bed hungry.

Can you believe that nearly 1 in 5 children in America go to bed hungry?! It doesn’t have to be this way… Come take the No Kid Hungry pledge with me. 

Why take the pledge?

Because ending childhood hunger is the most significant thing we can do. Together we have the power to make a difference.

Would you like to do more? No problem… All across America, people are hosting bake sales to support Share Our Strength. 

Come join and/or support the movement to raise funds to end childhood hunger in America by 2015!

Event: NYC Food Bloggers' Bake Sale
When: April 28th, 2012
Time: 10:00AM - 5:00PM
Where: Brooklyn Flea
          176 Lafayette Avenue (between Clermont & Vanderbilt Ave.)
          Brooklyn, NY 11238

For more information, check out the NYC Food Blogger's Bake Sale tumbler and Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wedding Favors

Have you heard of Wedzu? No…!? Well, you should! Wedzu is an online marketplace dedicated to everything weddings, from wedding dresses to the most amazing handmade items for your ceremony to reception.

As I mentioned before in a previous post; my husband and I wanted to elope, but it didn’t quite happen the way we planned it. We ended up putting together a “reception-ish” hootenanny {it really wasn’t a hootenanny… I just like that word. Hootenanny…} together in less than a month. *sigh* Wish Wedzu was around when I got married!

With wedding season around the corner, I wanted to tell about a little something we’ve been working on. Based on my experience of trying to put together a wedding in less than a month… I put together a line of pre-designed wedding/party favors that is available on Wedzu and Etsy.

I know there are pre-packaged favors out there, but how many lollipops or bottle openers do you really need or want?! There’s nothing wrong with that, if that is what you want to do. I just think it tends to look generic… my main problem, is that they never really look like it was chosen and/or designed just for you and your special day.

I think it’s all in the details. With that in mind, I tried to design our favors with an artisan feel yet with a touch of whimsy and elegance. At the moment, we have 3 different styles and 20 colors to choose from.

Don’t see a style or color you like… don’t worry! We are working on other styles and I would be happy to discuss packaging option and ideas with you.

I believe that every special event should end on a sweet note… whether it’s your wedding, birthday or any special event.
 By the way... Happy Leap Year!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Year... And Resolutions!

I’ve always enjoyed New Year’s Eve. Not because of all the parties, food, and cocktails, but because my mother taught me that it’s a time to be grateful for what you were blessed with throughout the year. It’s also a time to reflect on the changes we want and/or need to change. 

I do not necessarily enjoy looking back on the past, but I love looking forward to the future… 

Usually by November I’m so ready to shed the old to start anew. Its day 18 of 2012… How are you guys making out with your New Year’s resolution?! Not so good?! Did you overreach this year?! Do you normally make any resolutions?! 

I normally do not make New Year’s resolutions because I tend to waaaaaaay overreach. And usually by April I’m completely disappointed with myself, but this year I did make one. 

My resolution this year is to you, my blog friends and family out there. I pledge to post at least one or two posts a month. Yeah… yeah… I know what you’re saying… “Oh boy… here we go again!”

As I admitted before {here}; I’m an extremely private person and writing a blog is a challenge for me, but this is a hump I need to overcome. 

Oh… by the way, Sugar ‘n Pickles just turned two years old three days ago! Isn’t it so amazingly scary how time flies by?! 

Looking forward to 2012 with you blog friends! Happy New Year!
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