Archive for ‘valentine’s day’

February 14, 2011


When I came across this card, I immediately loved it. Not only is it really accurate (for me … with the addition of cats next to puppies), but I also love the creative use of the graph – something so often limited to use in math (my favorite part – an excuse to draw).  If I were to have bought Levi a card this year, it would have been this one – but I didn’t.

A hug and kiss will have to do this year!

To him, I love you more than words can say.

Wishing you all love.  Take time to smile today and every day.

February 11, 2011

* Heart * Cake

This cake … oh, this cake.

It makes my heart flutter.

No, unfortunately I didn’t make it.  But, I will!  Unfortunately, my valentine is not a cake lover – his allegiance is to pies.  Indicated by his ‘groom’s cake‘ at our wedding.  In the future.. the near future ..I will find a reason to make this.  But for those of you who are looking for an ambitious Valentine’s Day dessert – I think this would do!

After finding this tutorial, I spent awhile browsing the oh-so-many other beautiful recipes on the site. I fell in love with i am baker.  So creative.  So many things to try!  Happy baking.



February 7, 2011

Mascarpone Strawberry Tart

It was my Mom’s birthday in mid-January.  Normally we would get together to celebrate, you know – around the actual day, but this year the celebration got delayed a little bit.  As she says, “It really doesn’t matter, I’ll still be the same age” … and she was right, it was a great night.  Regardless, around here birthday’s give me another reason to bake.  I love it!

A few years ago, my Mom started to lose her voice, which they finally determined it was due to straining her voice along with the added effect of eating certain greasy and fatty foods, processed tomatoes, chocolate, etc.  Did you catch that?  Yes, chocolate.  Anything with caffeine; Which means, no dark chocolate or coffee (I know, it’s terrible).  BUT, she can have all. the. white. chocolate. she. wants.  And she sometimes will sneak a small bite of something with dark chocolate at the risk of losing her voice, but only sometimes.  Don’t worry Mom, your secret’s safe with us.

So when I’m baking something for her (like her birthday) or when I know she’ll be at a gathering where I’m baking / cooking, I obviously try to make sure that the recipes I choose won’t make her vocal chords mad.  Although my Dad welcomes it sometimes … Ha, I kid.  This recipe is one that I found will scouring for a recipe that would let me use my new tart pan, that didn’t incorporate chocolate. I found it on a newly-found site I stumbled across, kiss my spatula.  Giao has some wonderful recipes that will keep you occupied for awhile.  Oh, did I mention her photography – beautiful.

This recipe combines two of the recipes I loved on Giao’s site.  The crust comes from one recipe and the filling comes from another.  I would like to try the chocolate crust at some point, but today is not the day.  If you don’t have a tart pan, you could use a pie plate – but you may want to do a recipe-and-a-half to fill up the plate a little more.  But there’s just something about tart pans, and they’re not very expensive.  Plus, then you can make quiches and other savory tarts.  The possibilities are endless.  Ok, enough.  Here we go…

:: You will need ::

for the crust:

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, sliced into cubes

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup whole almonds, raw and unsalted

for the filling:

16 oz. mascarpone cheese

1/3 cup good honey

1 tsp. vanilla

2 large eggs

2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

zest of 1 lemon

2 cups strawberries

:: Let’s get going ::

(1) With an electric mixer on low speed, beat the cubes of cold butter and 1/4 cup sugar until just combined, about 15 seconds.

(2) Add the flour and salt, and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. You can add one tsp. of water, if needed.

Almost there.

There we go.  You want the dough to look like this.

(3) Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely ground (if you don’t have one, you can buy ground almonds).  You can also use blanched (white) almonds, but I kind of like the texture that the brown covering adds.

Scatter half of the almond mixture onto a clean work surface.

(4) Take the dough out of the mixing bowl, form together and place the dough on top of the almonds. Scatter the remaining almond mixture on top, and roll out dough, re-incorporating the almond mixture as you roll.  Try to get the dough to be near the size of the tart pan.

(5) Here’s where it gets tricky. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and then unroll the dough into the tart pan.

Don’t get upset when it cracks or breaks (this is what I tell myself), because it probably will. It’s ok. Just try to spread out the pieces and then press them together to form a solid crust.

Try to keep the same thickness throughout the pan as you begin to press the dough up and past the edges of the pan.

(6) Take a knife flush to the top of the pan and cut off the excess dough. Use the excess to piece in where the dough doesn’t quite reach the edge or where it is thinner.  Now you’re ready to refrigerate!

(7) Put the covered tart pan in the refrigerator until firm, for at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 day).

(8) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake tart shell for 30 minutes, while occasionally pressing the center of the tart pan down with a glass, until light brown. Let it cool while you get going on the filling.

(9) With an electric mixer on medium, beat the mascarpone cheese, honey, and vanilla until smooth.

(10) Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Then, beat in the flour, salt, and lemon zest.

(11) Pour that lovely filling into the cooled tart pan.

(12) You can’t miss this : Place the tart pan in a rimmed baking pan. If you skip this, you will have a mess. The pan will catch any drippings and will also keep the crust from overbrowning.  Set the pan on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is lightly golden in color and barely set in the center when you gently giggle the pan.

(13) Remove the tart from oven and place it on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes.  Then place it in the oven to chill until cold, at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day).  Be sure to cover it once cold.

(14) Shortly before you are ready to serve the tart, remove the rim from the pan … p.s. If you happen to lose a bit of your crust after removing the rim, take a little drop of honey on your finger and rub it on the tart where the crust detached.  Then tap into your puzzle-skills and put the crust piece back on to the tart.  After holding it there for a good 20 seconds or so and adding a bit of honey on the outside of the crack – you should be good. to. go.  This bit of ingeniousness was all Levi.  Yep, he got a big kiss for that one.

Rinse and dry the strawberries and then thinly slice them. Arrange the strawberries in a circular or spiral pattern on top of the tart, slightly overlapping the slices. What a beauty!

Happy Birthday, Marmi.  You are very loved.

Printable version.

Printable version with picture.


February 2, 2011

Matchboxes – Valentine’s Edition

Today I came across these little beauties and couldn’t resist sharing them. Although I don’t have any kiddos, I thought this was a really cute idea for those of you who do and need a fresh idea for Valentine’s Day ! Much like our wedding favors, this blog had the idea to dress up matchboxes. Replacing the matches with candy and completely covering the outside of the boxes is more exciting than the usual Valentine’s day cards. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to dust off the construction paper and crayons!

You can find a tutorial on how to make these little beauties here!

I thought this DIY Moleskine Photo Album was a great idea for you scrapbook types to create for your valentine as well.  Happy creating!